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Best Long Island Criminal Lawyers

Navigating the Long Island Criminal Justice System: A Guide for Defendants

Facing criminal charges on Long Island can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. As a defendant, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. The good news is that you do not have to go through this alone. Hiring an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the complex criminal justice system and protect your rights every step of the way.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the criminal justice process on Long Island and discuss how an attorney can assist at each stage. We will also share tips on finding the right lawyer for your specific case.

The Stages of a Criminal Case on Long Island

Here is a basic overview of what you can expect if you are facing criminal charges in Nassau or Suffolk County:

  • Arrest: If the police have probable cause to believe you committed a crime, you may be arrested and taken into custody. This is just the beginning of the process, not a determination of guilt.
  • Booking and Bail: After arrest, you will be photographed, fingerprinted and booked into jail. The judge will decide whether to release you on your own recognizance or require bail.
  • Arraignment: This is your first court appearance, where charges are formally presented. You will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
  • Pretrial Proceedings: Proceedings like plea negotiations, discovery requests, motions to dismiss evidence or suppress evidence, etc. occur during this phase.
  • Trial: If no plea agreement is reached, the case will go to trial before a judge or jury.
  • Sentencing: If found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence based on the charges and your criminal history.
  • Appeal: You can appeal the conviction or sentence if errors were made during the trial.

As you can see, a criminal case involves many complex steps. Having an attorney to advise you at each phase is crucial.

How a Long Island Criminal Lawyer Can Help

An experienced criminal defense attorney serves many important roles in protecting your rights and interests:

  • Analyzing police reports, evidence, witness statements and other aspects of your case to build the strongest defense
  • Negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges or dismissal of charges
  • Filing motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence
  • Conducting in-depth investigations to uncover facts and witnesses that support your case
  • Cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses at trial and objecting to improper questions
  • Presenting evidence and witnesses that contradict the prosecution’s version of events
  • Making compelling legal arguments to judges and juries on your behalf
  • Guiding you through the complexities of sentencing guidelines and advocating for the lowest possible penalty
  • Filing appeals if errors are made or you receive an excessive sentence

In short, a knowledgeable attorney serves as your advisor, advocate and protector from the moment of arrest through the conclusion of your case. Their intimate understanding of criminal law and procedure can mean the difference between a harsh outcome and a favorable one.

Finding the Right Long Island Criminal Lawyer for You

Not all attorneys have the same skills and experience. When researching criminal lawyers on Long Island, look for these important qualifications:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • Extensive knowledge of New York and Long Island criminal laws and courts
  • Successful track record getting charges reduced or dismissed pretrial
  • Skill negotiating favorable plea bargains with prosecutors
  • Litigation experience taking cases to trial and winning verdicts
  • Resources to conduct in-depth case investigations and hire experts
  • Strong relationships with judges, prosecutors and other court players
  • Good communication skills to explain the law and your options
  • Compassion for clients going through difficult situations

It’s also important to choose a criminal lawyer with experience handling your specific type of charges, whether it’s drug offenses, sex crimes, DUI, domestic violence, theft, or others. Their familiarity with the nuances of that area of law will be invaluable.

When meeting with potential attorneys, be sure to ask lots of questions about their background, strategy for your case, fees and more. A good lawyer will take time to address all of your concerns. Go with your gut feeling about who you can trust to have your best interests at heart.

Understanding Key Criminal Defenses in New York

There are several criminal defenses that a skilled lawyer may use to get charges against you dropped or reduced. Some of the main defenses in New York law include:

  • Self-Defense – Using physical force against another is justified if you reasonably believed it was necessary to defend yourself or someone else from imminent harm. Deadly force is only justified if you reasonably believed you were facing deadly physical force from the other person and there was no ability to retreat safely[1].
  • Duress – You should not be held criminally liable if you were coerced into committing the crime by the use or threat of unlawful force against you or a third person, which a reasonable person could not resist[2].
  • Entrapment – The police induced or encouraged you to commit a crime you otherwise would not have committed. Merely providing an opportunity to commit the crime is not entrapment[3].
  • Mistake of Fact – You had a reasonable mistaken belief about a fact or situation that negates your criminal intent. For example, mistakenly believing the person you assaulted had a weapon[4].
  • Diminished Capacity – You lacked the mental capacity to form the specific intent required by the crime charged, often used in murder cases[5].

An experienced criminal lawyer will evaluate whether any of these defenses could apply in your case. Raising a successful defense can lead to reduced or dismissed charges.

The Importance of Honesty and Communication with Your Lawyer

Being open and honest with your criminal defense attorney is critical. They cannot build the best case if they don’t have all the facts. Be upfront about:

  • What exactly happened leading up to your arrest
  • Any statements you made to the police
  • Potential witnesses who could support your version of events
  • Your past criminal record, if any
  • Personal struggles with addiction, mental health issues, etc. that may have influenced your actions

While it may be difficult, providing your lawyer with an accurate picture of the circumstances can help them get charges reduced or dismissed where possible. What you share is also protected under attorney-client privilege.

Ongoing communication is also key. Be responsive to your lawyer’s calls and emails to discuss case developments and strategy. Provide any additional information as it comes up. The more your lawyer knows, the better positioned they are to defend you.

Considering the Pros and Cons of Plea Bargains

Many Long Island criminal cases end in plea bargains rather than going to trial. A plea bargain involves pleading guilty to some charges in exchange for reduced penalties or having more serious charges dropped. Some pros and cons of plea bargains include:

  • Pros
    • Avoid the maximum sentence if convicted at trial
    • Resolve the case more quickly
    • Provide certainty instead of leaving the outcome to a jury
    • Save significant trial expenses
  • Cons
    • Plead guilty to a crime you did not commit or do not want on your record
    • Accept punishment you do not feel is fair
    • Waive your right to trial and certain appeal rights
    • Potential immigration consequences if not a U.S. citizen

Your attorney will discuss whether a plea is advisable based on the strength of the evidence, possible sentence exposure, your prior record and other factors. The final decision is yours, but your lawyer’s advice is crucial in weighing the pros and cons for your situation.

Preparing for Trial and Knowing What to Expect

If your case does go to trial, thorough preparation with your attorney is essential. Tasks may include:

  • Reviewing jury selection procedures and discussing potential jurors to strike
  • Analyzing all discovery evidence and documents provided by the prosecution
  • Identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to highlight on cross-examination
  • Developing opening and closing arguments
  • Preparing your testimony, if you plan to testify
  • Issuing subpoenas for favorable witnesses to testify
  • Researching and writing motions to exclude prejudicial evidence
  • Retaining expert witnesses, private investigators or other specialists if needed

Your lawyer will also walk you through what to expect during the trial, such as the order of witness testimony, rules of the courtroom, etc. so you aren’t caught off guard.

Having an experienced trial attorney makes a tremendous difference as well. Their skills in arguing before a judge and jury, discrediting prosecution witnesses in cross-examination, and presenting persuasive defenses can lead to an acquittal or hung jury.

Don’t Go It Alone – Consult a Long Island Criminal Defense Lawyer

The bottom line is you should not try to navigate New York’s criminal justice system alone. The risks are too high. Even if you cannot afford a private attorney, request a public defender at your arraignment.

A knowledgeable Long Island criminal lawyer will protect your rights, apply their expertise to build the strongest case, and fight for the best possible outcome at every stage. With an attorney on your side, you can feel empowered and optimistic rather than helpless. Don’t leave your fate to chance – call a criminal defense lawyer today.

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